Author Topic: Kushan Dynasty: Vima Kadphises (c. 100-128 AD), AE Tetradrachm, Bilingual series  (Read 342 times)

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Offline Overlord

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Kushan Dynasty: Vima Kadphises (c. 100-128 AD), AE Tetradrachm, First Bilingual series, Kapisa mint, Göbl 762, MAC 3008 (17.06 g, 27 mm)

While a rather common coin, it is difficult to find one in a decent state of preservation. I had been looking for one with a decent amount of detail for quite some time and while this is nowhere near Mr. Lingen's amazingly preserved specimen at Zeno, it does show the ithyphallic aspect of Lord Shiva.

Obverse: King in Kushan dress, standing facing, head left, hand over altar at left, trident-battleaxe in left field, tamgha and (lateral) club in right field. Crudely engraved, somewhat corrupt, Greek Legend BAC(I)ΛEYC BAC(IΛEWN CWTHP MEΓAC) OOHM KAΔΦICHC (Basileus Basileon Sotir Megas Ooim Kadphisis) (King of Kings, Vima Kadphises, the Great Saviour)

Reverse: Ithyphallic three-headed Lord Shiva, wearing necklace; sacred thread over left shoulder; Trisula (trident) in right hand; left hand resting on Nandi (bull) standing right behind, Buddhist triratana (“Three Jewels”) symbol to left. Around: Kharosthi legend “ma(harajasa rajadhi?)rajasa (mahisvarasa?) sarvaloka isvarasa Hima Kathphishasa tratara” (Emperor, king of kings, Maheshwara, god of all realms, Vima Kadphises)


Offline Overlord

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Kushan imagery depicting a three-headed Shiva/Oesho. Images are from Google search and the property of their respective owners.
It is also worth noting that these images do not show the third eye as vertical. On the coin, I see something that could be the “third eye”, just under the crown, but the details are too worn to be certain.

Offline THCoins

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Great specimen and great work on the overlay.
I second your confusion on the Kharosthi at the bottom. I think the engraver just forgot a character.
sarvaloga'isvarasa ought to be written as in the picture below.

Offline Overlord

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Great specimen and great work on the overlay.
I second your confusion on the Kharosthi at the bottom. I think the engraver just forgot a character.
sarvaloga'isvarasa ought to be written as in the picture below.
Actually, even on some of the specimens I saw at Zeno and Coinindia, the last character does not look like a “ga”. It looks rather like “Sa’”. However, as “Sarvalosa” would not make any sense, I thought it more likely to be a badly engraved “ka”. That is assuming there is a trucated “Lo” in the front.

Do you know of a specimen that has this part of the legend written out clearly?

Offline THCoins

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It proved to be more difficult thatn i thought to find another specimen with clear legend below the feet of Shiva.
Interstingly, this one, does show the "Ga" but then misses the character after that.
Then here there is a gold type with clear full legend fragment.

Offline Overlord

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It proved to be more difficult thatn i thought to find another specimen with clear legend below the feet of Shiva.
Interstingly, this one, does show the "Ga" but then misses the character after that.
Then here there is a gold type with clear full legend fragment.
Thanks! The CNG example also seems to have a different legend arrangement. I can’t make out the two characters after “ga”, but the word after them is clearly “mahiswarasa”, making the reading “sarvalogasa (i)swara maheswarasa hima..” The gold coin has the same arrangement, except the “i” os “iswara” isn’t missing. So, was the last character on the same legend arrangement as mine an error or did they indeed mean to write “sarvaloka” (of all realms) instead of “sarvaloga” (of all people)?

Offline THCoins

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Jongeward & Cribb describe two varieties. The standard as "rajadirajasa sarvaloga-isvarasa mahisvarasa" and on some coppers from later years it may be seen reordered as "rajadirajasa mahisvarasa sarvaloga-isvarasa" .  Spelling errors are also noted for the gold specimen (Kushan, Kushan-Sasanian and Kidarite Coins,2015, p54)

Offline Overlord

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Jongeward & Cribb describe two varieties. The standard as "rajadirajasa sarvaloga-isvarasa mahisvarasa" and on some coppers from later years it may be seen reordered as "rajadirajasa mahisvarasa sarvaloga-isvarasa" .  Spelling errors are also noted for the gold specimen (Kushan, Kushan-Sasanian and Kidarite Coins,2015, p54)
I skipped the ANS catalogue, but pre-ordered the (hopefully much more comprehensive) British museum catalogue, set to release in December.
MACW also lists both variants.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2019, 04:14:07 PM by Overlord »

Offline Overlord

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Another (16.1 g, 26 mm)

Obverse: King in Kushan dress, standing facing, head left, hand over altar at left, trident-battleaxe in left field, tamgha and (lateral) club in right field. Greek Legend BACIΛEYC BACIΛEWN (CWTHP MEΓA)C OOHM KAΔΦICHC (Basileus Basileon Sotir Megas Ooim Kadphisis) (King of Kings, Vima Kadphises, the Great Saviour)
Reverse: Ithyphallic three-headed Lord Shiva, wearing necklace; sacred thread over left shoulder, trident in right hand; left hand resting on Nandi (bull) standing right behind, Buddhist triratana (“Three Jewels”) symbol to left. Around:  Traces of corrupt Kharosthi legend “...logasa marasa Hima Kathphishasa tratasa”



Offline EWC

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Part of the problem getting good Kushan coppers is the fact they used dies so long - very often you find dies almost worn out - but still in use.

A long while back Cribb produced some paradoxical results from die studies (Kanishka). 

While from the surviving coins one would assume maybe tens of millions  were stuck - but the die study seemed to predict just hundreds of thousands.

It seemed to me Cribb subsequently backed away from his own argument, but I still find that whole matter rather puzzling

Rob T

Offline Figleaf

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Interesting. Looking at a map of the Kushan empire here, you get the impression that there were at least two parts. The Southern part (Taxila mint) organised around the Indus valley and the Northern part (Kapisa/Balkh/Qunduz mints) running from present Uzbekistan to present Afghanistan. The two parts are separated by serious mountains. To the South is fertile land and the economy is sedentary, in the North are deserts and steppes (except Ferghana, but it is isolated by its own mountain ranges) and the economy is trade-dependent.

I could imagine that the cost of making a die would be quite different in the two parts. In the South, metal and skilled labour would be relatively easy to obtain locally, while in the North, it would have to be imported and transported over inhospitable ground. In those circumstances, Taxila would have replaced its dies more often than the Northern mints.

Speculating now, but perhaps, circumstances (trade, dry climate, slower development) promoted the preservation of the production of the Northern mints, making Cribb's sample skewed towards the circumstances in the North?

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline EWC

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I just do not know. I think I correctly recall  Robert Bracey seems to be sure the Great Kushan gold dies were changed once per year for some sort of administrative purpose, but I never figured out how we could be confident of that. 

Anyhow - on the copper, that does not seem to be what is going on.  With the Kanishka coppers its the obverse (king) side that is very commonly worn.  Often very very worn, but out of sync with the reverse (deity) dies which are generally in better shape. 

All seems a bit mysterious to me.  Metcalf estimated Offa struck about 6 million pennies and I just cannot square that with Vima & co striking only a few hundred thousand coppers.  Try find an Offa penny for sale...........

Rob T